Growling when picked up

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Growling when picked up

This is a discussion on Growling when picked up within the Dog Training and Behavior forums, part of the Keeping and Caring for Dogs category; I recently adopted a two-year old mini. dachshund. Things have been going well for the past four weeks, but recently he has started growling when ...

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Old 10-30-2017, 10:14 AM
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Growling when picked up

I recently adopted a two-year old mini. dachshund. Things have been going well for the past four weeks, but recently he has started growling when I pick him up. At first he would only growl when he knew it was time to go in the kennel for bedtime, but now it is whenever we pick him up, even if to get him off my lap so that I can do something. He warms up to me almost immediately thereafter, tail wagging and all, but when I am about to pick him up there is a notable change in his affect. His previous owners were rough with him, I was told by the shelter, so I imagine that has something to do with it. Is it just a matter of not picking him up? That seems an insufficient solution, especially in cases where he is on my lap and I need to move. I've been told to use treats for bedtime to associate the kennel with a positive environment. I'm simply not sure what to do. It's one thing for a dog to be a curmudgeon (however disheartening, since I enjoy picking my dogs up and snuggling with them), but to be so in such a bi-polar way, so to speak, is disconcerting. Thoughts? Tips?
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Old 10-30-2017, 03:40 PM
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How recently did you adopt him? Rescue dogs need time and patience to acclimate to their new home and family, If he is relatively new to your home try not picking him up to often till he has bonded more with you, he will come around...He definitely needs alot of positive reinforcement, so yes use treats, so that he associates those things you are concerned about with being positive, it probably wouldn't hurt to take an obedience class with him either!!
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Old 10-30-2017, 03:45 PM
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Many thanks for your reply. We are going on four weeks of his being in my care. This growling, however, is a more recent phenomenon. I do not spank my dogs, so I'm not sure where this is coming from. (Like I said, though, his previous owner was rough with him.) Perhaps I got comfortable more quickly than he and have unknowingly increased the number of times I try to pick him up. I will give it more time. Again, thank you for your advice.
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Old 10-30-2017, 04:00 PM
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Okay, I have a harebrained idea but what the heck. Try placing a high value treat slightly elevated above the dog's reach, resting on something like a box or stool. Give your pooch a taste of another small piece near the elevated piece, the moment your dog has wind of the placed treat and looks like he might go for it, just help the dog up by lifting his front half up to get the treat and see if he growls. If he does, just practice the placement of your hands on the dog in a similar position without lifting the dog and reward immediately. One small step at a time and repeat the non-growling version numerous times while rewarding. IF, a slow progression of hand placement simulating how you lift him followed by just lifting his front half gets no growling, continue the process until you can lift him completely to get to the reward.

If by a long shot this should work and your dog turns into a counter surfer ( the really low ones) you can work on that next.
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Old 10-30-2017, 04:49 PM
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I agree with working on helping him become more comfortable with being picked up (and handled in general) via rewards as suggested already.

A couple other thoughts...
-I would have a very thorough exam done by your vet to look for any pain. While your guy is young, the breed is prone to back issues and as he had prior owners who were rough with him it would be something to investigate/rule out.

- Also you might have success with using a hand target to help move him when needed so you don't have to pick him up as frequently.
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Old 10-31-2017, 04:56 AM
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I agree with all the others regarding training to help him get used to being picked up, but in the meantime there are ways around having to pick him up to get him off your lap. In my experience if you just move a little they wake up anyway, and often jump off ready to see what you are getting up to. The other option is to just sort of scooch out from under them so they plonk down on the couch.

Also I would be looking at teaching him an 'off' command also - this was the rule for my dog when she was a puppy - she wasnt allowed to stay on the couch until she knew what 'off' meant and obeyed every time. She was always an easily distracted dog so if she jumped on the couch I just made the floor a much more exciting place to be, and she would also get rewarded for jumping down. Im not sure how treat/play motivated your guy is but might be worth a shot?
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Old 10-31-2017, 11:33 AM
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Four weeks is not a long time, considering all the adjustments he has to make. Its possible, the reason he just started growling is that he is beginning to feel comfortable enough to express himself. Having a Vet access him is always a good idea, and I too thought of him possibly being in pain when you lift him, but I think you would get more than a growl if it hurt. Having said that, Doxies are indeed very prone to spine problems, so there is another reason for the Vet assessment, if for no other reason, to rule out spinal pain. Once he gets a clean bill of health, consider working with a qualified trainer even if just for a short time, so you can learn the correct way to deal with him and the growling issue.
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